MMA gloves or grappling gloves are small, open-fingered gloves used in mixed martial arts bouts. They usually have around 4–6 oz of padding and are designed to provide some protection to the person wearing the glove, but leave the fingers available for grappling maneuvers such as clinch fighting and submissions.
Small, open-fingered gloves were first mandatory in Japan's Shooto promotion and were later adopted by the UFC as it developed into a regulated sport. Gloves were introduced to protect fighters' fists from injuries, as well as reduce the number of facial lacerations (and stoppages due to cuts) that fighters experienced without gloves. The introduction of gloves was also intended to encourage fighters to use their hands for striking to allow more captivating matches for fans. There are some similarities to the wrist-supporting, closed-thumb, broken-knuckle kempo gloves popularized by Bruce Lee's 1973 movie Enter the Dragon.
Types and use
Competition gloves - Most professional fights have the fighters wear 4 ounce (110 g) gloves, whereas amateurs may wear a slightly heavier 6 ounce (170 g) glove for increased protection.
Sparring gloves - Generally speaking MMA sparring gloves weight is usually 7 ounces. When sparring there is obviously a lot of punching involved, from working the bag to actual sparring with a partner. Both of these require that your knuckles are adequately protected and cushioned from the forces put upon them. The 7Oz refers to the weight of the padding inside the gloves and not the overall weight.
Grappling gloves - Otherwise known as hybrid or training gloves these are used mainly for clinch work/grappling.This type of glove has less padding than sparring or competition gloves. In addition each finger can be moved independently allowing for more gripping ability.
Impact of gloves on safety and injuries
The impact of gloves on the injuries caused during a fight is a controversial issue, mostly looked at in relation to boxing. Studies have shown that use of large 'boxing style' gloves fights cause more severe and more long-term brain and eye injuries than bare-knuckle fights, although the incidence of superficial injuries (cuts, bruising) is reduced. In part, this can also be attributed to more, shorter rounds in modern fights made possible by the use of gloves, which results in longer fights than earlier and that boxers punch harder while wearing gloves.
Media related to MMA gloves at Wikimedia Commons
- British Medical Journal: The Boxing Debate
- Dillner L. Boxing should be counted out, says BMA report. BMJ. 1993;306:1561–1562.